Abortion Care, Commentary

Our Second-Wave Shero: Marcy Bloom

Continuation of our series on Marcy Bloom. For more click here.

By Tori Marie Westman and Sara Yingling

Intersectionality

Tori:  I know that one critique of our generation, the Occupy Wall Street generation, is that we want everything which makes it seem like we don’t actually want anything.  This desire to reach out to other groups, to make sure that we are taking off the blinders created by our own identities and personal experiences, is only a natural progression of a progressive movement.

Everything is connected, which is why we kept hearing the word “intersectionality” in our conversation with Marcy. Social inequality does not come from one aspect of identity, such as class or gender, but the combination and interactions of all aspects of identity. Which is why our movement is steering away from only making sure abortion is legal, but also that it is accessible to all people and eliminating the stigma it carries.  Marcy got it right when she said, “Abortion is a justice issue and it is dictated by the myriad of other circumstances in a woman’s life.”

Sara:  She’s completely right. Abortion and pregnancy are not streamlined, straightforward issues; they don’t affect all women (or men) in the same way. As with many other issues, problems, stereotypes, and challenges that women experience, pregnancy and abortion happen through a lens of personal life experiences, mitigated by society.  An upper-class, educated woman living in an urban area has many different options to consider if she becomes pregnant, than does a lower-class, uneducated woman living in the rural part of a state.  Think about it: a woman with resources can afford to pay an out-of-network doctor for an abortion procedure; a woman without resources cannot. Abortion funds, like the CAIR Project, exist for exactly this reason. A woman is most likely to be a victim of domestic violence when she is pregnant, and women of color are more likely to be killed from domestic violence. A poor, uninsured woman who lives a 10 hour drive from an abortion clinic that only does medication abortions has many barriers to cross before she even walks into the clinic.

As time and societal understanding of gender has increased, recognizing gender non-conformity on this ever-growing list of attributes is very important–like transgender males. For example: a female to male transgender person who is raped and consequently becomes pregnant. This person may reject hir biological sex, so being pregnant directly conflicts with hir ability to live life outside the confines of hir sex and be comfortable in hir body. Unfortunately, as prevalent as hate crimes are in our country, this scenario cannot be ignored. And neither can the victim.

All of these issues ultimately intersect to create a personal experience–one that cannot fit squarely into a box, and one that, unless you are that person, you cannot hope to fully understand. We, as Marcy is, must continue to be cognizant of how abortion and pregnancy affect people of all colors, races, gender identities, classes, locations, religions, ages, etc., and not try to group them into one category.

Marcy really hit on this when she was describing how she was working for a clinic in New York and she would pick up women who flew into NY from other states who were all mixes of these variables. They all somehow found the money to get to a state where abortion was legal and get their procedure. Some even came to the state without enough money to purchase the procedure and borrowed money from Marcy. For every woman who figured out a way to make it work, there are many more just like her who didn’t have access to this choice.

Tori:   That is, women who did have access to that choice would end up having unsafe abortions.  Without access to choice, women would die.

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